What Makes Conducting Surrogacy Rationalized in the Modern Society? --from the Analysis of the History and Development

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Yoshie YANAGIHARA, Tokyo Denki University, Japan
It has been discussed that surrogacy is the result of the development of biotechnology. This research refutes such a discourse by analyzing the history of surrogacy, focusing on East Asian practices.

As can be seen in the Bible, there are examples were the original practice of becoming pregnant and delivering babies in the service of others was widely conducted. This same practice was utilized in East Asia. Korea had a system called "shiba-ji" in which women lived in their own villages and became surrogate mothers, and their daughters did so as well. China had its practice called “dian-qi” in which a man rented another man's wife to have her give birth. Japan had a similar system called “mekake-bouko” in which a single woman would give birth while taking up living with a master in a domestic service role. 

After these countries became influenced by western culture, these practices died down, because they were regarded as uncivilized. Nevertheless, in 1976, an American lawyer promoted the practice using a modern framework which reinterpreted surrogacy as a benefit of technologies, modern contractual relationship, and women’s altruistic. This recasting of surrogacy would become popular in the other parts of the world later on.

The history shows the idea is not born from biotechnologies. Science technologies work as actors to accelerate surrogacy practices by meeting clients’ preference to use more preferable eggs: either of the clients’ or of someone else, and also, by expanding the market geographically through the development of transportation advancements and information technologies.

Therefore, the matters to be discussed about surrogacy are in the social structure: why this modern society easily allows to make a women’s body available even under the concepts of human rights, when it is construed in a context of medicine - namely, it is the social structure of bio-politics.